Printed Scores vs. Projected Lyrics in the choir in the Intergenerational Church

Have you ever wondered if church choirs today are using printed scores when they sing or do they only use a confidence monitor (or projected lyrics) when they sing? If you said no, you’re probably not alone! When I was researching the choir in the intergenerational church, I wondered if the “appearance” of memorized music was prevalent in these churches. What I found was for choral anthems/specials, there really wasn’t a stand-out method of transmitting lyrics.  Here’s the data:

  1. Almost 31 percent always use printed scores when they sing choral numbers
  2. 21 percent used printed scores and project lyrics simultaneously
  3. Only 11 percent use projected lyrics

When cross-comparing with other data, here is what I found about these choirs:

  1. Every choir who uses only printed music for choral numbers wears robes.
  2. Choirs that were dominated by higher numbers of young people (especially Gen X) used projected media when presenting their choral numbers.
  3. Larger choirs and choirs in larger churches (1000+ in weekly worship attendance) use projected media all the time. The thought here is more people in the choir makes it easier to “follow along” if you don’t have a score.
  4. More than half of the choirs that use projected media for choral numbers wore Sunday attire and not robes in their worship services.

This data suggests that since those choirs that are Gen-X dominant used projected media for choral numbers, while the converse was true for the Boomer dominant choir, a director should alter their plans for lyric transmission based on their group OR desire to attract. This thinking is not that simple. While the data suggests what others are doing and there might be some comparisons to your own church, it doesn’t take into account every situation you might be in.  Here is what I do know that can complicate everything I’ve said. What would you add?:

  1. Some churches don’t want to use printed scores simply because they want to be free to express themselves in worship with their bodies and communicate truth with their faces. Some leaders find the converse to be true, the choir members shouldn’t bring attention to themselves when presenting choral music.
  2. Those who use combinations of printed scores and projected lyrics really want everyone to refer to the score when they need it, but what they REALLY want is for their choir members to get their heads out of the MUSIC and communicate the truth of the text.
  3. Some leaders don’t want their choir members staring at a confidence monitor in lieu of looking at the leader.
  4. Some churches still don’t have a way to project lyrics to the choir so it’s not even an option.

At our church, we use a combination of both. Part of the reasoning has to do with rehearsal time. We simply don’t have enough to time to internalize something to the point where I feel everyone is comfortable not using the score. With that said, I do insist we forgo printed scores on several things, but only because quality and confidence are more important to me than it just looking good.  If I could, I wouldn’t use scores at any service, but I would like for them to be as prepared as they were with scores.

Here’s a list of things that dictate why I do that I do:

  1. At Ivy Creek, we use both printed scores and projected lyrics most of the time and don’t wear robes. Our choir membership is 93 and our weekly worship attendance is presently over 600.
  2. I have a large number of music readers, but the volume of literature we sing makes it hard to memorize everything, even though I provide listening examples.
  3. I insist that we look uniform when we sing with or without scores. By this I mean, all looking towards me, eyes on the director, etc.
  4. If the Spirit moves you, feel free to express that praise, but remember, if it becomes a distraction to those around you or causes people to stare at you, you’ve missed the point.
  5. Because we use scores frequently, I remind the choir often to look up and not sing into the book. Even though we go through lots of literature, we are never unprepared (unless you’re not coming to rehearsals).
  6. Even though we are a large choir (over 75 persons), we haven’t been that big very long. While it’s easy to depend the shear number of people in some choirs, more than half of my choir hasn’t been in the choir longer than 4 years! That said, their “muscle memory” for long-time favorites doesn’t exist, because there are no long-time favorites or “sugar-sticks!”

Most of those leaders I’ve spoken with who are hard-core believers in not using scores frequently DO NOT learn lots of new literature in a year. And rightly so, most people need lots of time learning their part the first time a round or have more rehearsal time than I have. Those with larger choirs and more music readers MIGHT be able to learn music quicker, although it is not guaranteed.

What are your thoughts?

Beyond the worship service-Practical ways to promote intergenerationality in your church.

Last week, I had the privilege of teaching two different groups of folks about my research and intergenerational worship in general. On Monday, I spoke with some of the church music students at University of Cumberlands in Kentucky, where my friend Joey Wolfe teaches. On Wednesday, I spoke with a Doctor of Ministry seminar on mutigenerational ministry for my alma mater, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Both teaching times were different due to the students in the seminars/classes, but I found it interesting what I learned when speaking with each group. The questions the arose from those teaching times have certainly gotten me thinking even more about how to be more intentional about being intergenerational in our churches.

Many of these students wanted to talk more about the “terms” I have used in my blog to describe intergenerational (intentional/pure, organic, modified) and how their own personal churches fall into one of those categories. One of the DMin students, who serves an intentionally intergenerational church, wanted to know more about how my church is intergenerational in other areas besides worship. While my list will not be exhaustive, hopefully it will start the conversation among your leadership on how can we be more intentional in our interpersonal relationships among the various generations in our churches.

  1. Church-wide fellowships. Why not? You’re already doing them, so be creative in how you promote and engage all generations in this biblical practice! For instance, if family togetherness is your goal, you can have family (extended even) activities planned. If getting to know your fellow members (no matter how big your church is) is your end-game, make it a “requirement” to sit in specific places where it’s easy to meet new people. However you do it, I promise, people WILL mingle and most of the time, especially if you have multiple services as we do, meet some new people.
  2. Outreach. Our outreach and evangelism teams continue to be made of folks from every generation. In addition, several of our church-wide events are geared for all ages. Next month, our annual Fall Festival brings well over a thousand people to our campus…families of all ages. While many might see this event as a children’s event only, we do not. Every one of our ministry teams is involved in making this event a reflection of who we are as a church—a body of believers that values all generations.
  3. Bible Study. Believe it or not we actually have an intergenerational Sunday School class that meets at 8:30 every Sunday. Young Marrieds on up meet together. Often, the class has young marrieds that enjoy Bible Study and worship with their parents.
  4. Men’s and Women’s Ministry.  Several things can be done here, but I want to highlight one great things happening right now. Recently,  our ladies ministry has started a recurring intergenerational event called the “Chat and Chew.” Ladies of all generations sign up to participate and are grouped in dinner groups of various generations. Young moms are given free child care and so it’s easier for them to participate. These groups head out local restaurants and have fellowship, prayer, and build meaningful relationships. Topics can be “seeded” by the group host.
  5. Missions. Our yearly mission endeavors have always been intergenerational. The last several trips we’ve taken have had families (often three generations) serving together in mission projects.
  6. AWANA. We love our children here at Ivy Creek and we want to make sure that they hide the Word in their hearts. Many, many of our workers and listeners are from much older generations and they invest (both spiritually and relationally) with our kids. Here at Ivy Creek, it’s not just parents serving in this ministry.

 

I’m sure there are many more you might add. I’d love to hear your additions! There are a few themes, however, that are present in each of these I’ve listed. These global perspectives help guide our leadership in making decisions of what to do and WHY.

  1. Intentionality. We are constantly thinking…who will this involve? how can it involve more in different generations (if it can- hear me, we are not opposed to age-specific ministries).
  2. Promote a family atmosphere where older and younger can learn from each other.
  3. Relationship Building is key. We realize that in order for intergenerational philosophy to work, both older and younger have to believe in it. Further, learning from those in other generations rarely happens if you don’t get to know the other person and believe that have anything of value to contribute.
  4. Being intentionally intergenerational at this point is like swimming upstream. Seems like everywhere I turn, I’m confronted with people who can’t understand why we don’t cater only to Millennials. They believe that our church will be dead in 20-25 years if we don’t “fill up” the worship center with young people. While in some ways this is true, I’ll tell you, our church is not the hippest church in our zip code, but we are being faithful to who God has called us to be. We are growing (20+ percent growth annually for the last 5 years) and many of our newest members are younger. We believe that the KEY to lasting growth and continued Kingdom building is involving ALL generations in ministry. That way, our young members will be connected for life.

 

In closing I’m including some literature that might also be of interest to you on the subject of intergenerational ministry in general. The Spring 2012 Christian Education Journal is particularly wonderful if you are looking for ways to promote intergenerational behavior in discipleship and education ministries.

If your church is interested in “coming back together” after splitting apart for music reasons, or some other reason, David Hasker’s project is worth reading among others.  Just so you know, if you are interested in some of these DMin projects or dissertations and don’t have access, I can send a copy to you if you would like.

Worship and Generations Selected Bibliography_

The 10 C’s of Musical Worship Part 2

Continued from last week. Part Two of the 10 C’s of Musical Worship.

  1. Conviction
  • Do we believe what we sing? It is affecting us and does it move us emotionally? Our emotions should be stirred because we really believe what we are singing.
  • It is not enough to sing truth, we must believe the truth. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Our singing must be faith-filled.
  • From time to time the church should be challenged directly by what we are singing. This can be addressed before or after a particular song by giving a 30-60 second word of admonition or encouragement. It is helpful for those leading to sketch these words out ahead of time to avoid rambling.
  • Instead of saying “I just love this song,” it is more helpful to say something like “I love the truth that is proclaimed in these words,” and then briefly state that particular truth. Aim to let the affections be drawn to truth and not the songs by pointing directly at the truth. Songs don’t change people; the truth of God’s Word changes people. Focus on these truths.

 

  1. Comprehensive Themes
  • Are we covering the Biblical themes or are we just stuck on one or a few things?
  • There are many themes and we should cover all of them in proportion to the weight they are given in Scripture.
  • Examples: Baptism – we wouldn’t want all of our songs to be baptism songs as the Bible isn’t all about baptism. The character of God – we should sing about all aspects of His character: love, mercy, holiness, grace, goodness, faithfulness, wrath, etc.

 

  1. Cheerfulness
  • Is our music marked by joy? This comes not by just choosing upbeat songs. The joy comes when we really believe what we are singing and are engaged in the process by responding to the text and not just the style.
  • When we sing phrases like, “And bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again,” we need to encourage joy-filled responses and not be afraid of them. While it is possible to be drawn away by excesses, this should not prevent the right use of physical expression (clapping, lifting hands, shouting, etc.) as a faith-filled response.
  • Even though there should be space allowed for times of lament, confession of sin and repentance, the lasting mood should be joy as we are drawn to remember the hope of the gospel and the forgiveness given through Christ. When coupled with the assurance of pardon, knowing and confessing our sins becomes a freeing experience. While we should spend some time in the dust, we are not to stay there as we remember that our sin debt has been paid in full.
  • Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

 

  1. Color
  • Is all of our singing of one flavor, or are we using many different styles? Are we using varied instrumentation that is faithful to the gifts that are possessed within our congregation?
  • We make style an issue when we make style the issue. However, we should be able to step back and see that there are many different styles being used in the worship of the church.
  • This is not done to please some of the people some of the time. It is done so that we can reflect the diversity with which God made us.

 

  1. Communal Love
  • Many churches are struggling over the issues of music and worship, and most discussions can be solved when we do as we are instructed in Colossians 3:14; “Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect body of unity.”
  • This also means that we might have to endure some songs that may not be our “favorites.” If these songs pass the other criteria, then we must be willing to include them for the sake of the congregation at large and learn to rejoice as we sing them.
  • Chip Stam, former professor of worship at SBTS, would often remind his classes that “The mature believer is easily edified.” As we grow in Christ, we will find it easier to be edified as the body of Christ sings together even when our favorite song or song styles were not included in the service.